Adelaide is a beautiful city and has been consistently ranked one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is known as a 20-minute city, where you can visit Adelaide’s stunning beaches and hills, all within a 20-minute drive.
Having lived in Adelaide for 10+ years, I believe 3-day is the minimum for visiting Adelaide. With a 3-day visit, you should have enough time to explore the beautiful Adelaide city, picturesque Adelaide Hills, and stunning Adelaide coastline.
Adelaide also offers an efficient and extensive public transport system with buses, trains, and trams. All these services can be accessed with one single Metro ticket or MetroCard.
With a convenient public transport system, you do not need a car to visit Adelaide. You can easily spend multiple days in and around Adelaide with only public transport services.
In this article, I will take you through a detailed and practical 3 Day Adelaide Itinerary to explore this charming city without a car.
If you are visiting Adelaide by car, this itinerary will also work for you. That simply means you will have more freedom to explore each attraction at a time that suits you.
3 Day Adelaide Itinerary without a car
Although Adelaide is smaller in comparison to many other Australian capital cities, you can have excellent food, wine, culture, art, event, and wildlife experiences, without ever stepping outside of its CBD. However, to get the most out of your 3-day visit to Adelaide, this itinerary will also take you to explore the famous Adelaide Hills and stunning Adelaide coastline.
Day 1: Adelaide CBD
Start your day with breakfast at the famous Peter Rabbit.
Their extensive menu offers a great vegetarian selection as well as non-vegetarian choices.
Bonus point & the biggest eye candy: cute rabbits to admire (real rabbits inside).
Take a casual stroll along North Terrace (eastward direction) after breakfast.
North Terrace is lined with a range of historically and culturally significant buildings. Along this walk, you will be walking past:
- Adelaide Railway Station:
- First opened in 1856 & still operating as a train station today.
- Be sure to wander in to admire its impressive windows and high ceilings.
- Note: part of the station building is currently used by Adelaide Casino & SkyCity Adelaide, which you may also want to check out.
- South Australian Parliament House:
- East of Adelaide Railway Station
- Free tours available on non-sitting days to visit inside of this Parliament House can be booked online in advance.
- State Library of South Australia:
- It may not look spectacular from the outside, but be sure to check out its Mortlock Wing on the eastern end of this library.
- If I can only pick one building to visit on North Terrace, this is it!
- The 3-level open-plan Mortlock Chamber is like a scene from Harry Potter. Feel free to grab a chair and a book to enjoy some solitude while visiting this Victorian library.
- South Australian Museum:
- House a large collection of specimens and artefacts.
- Can be especially appealing for people interested in geology and Aboriginal culture.
- Can easily spend at least a couple of hours here.
- Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA):
- For art lovers, this is where you may want to visit.
- With a decent collection of art, you can easily spend an hour or two here.
- Guided tours are available twice a day (with a fee).
- The University of Adelaide:
- A prestigious university and the third oldest university in Australia.
- You can find many historic buildings on this campus.
All these North Terrace attractions are free to visit, but you may not have time to explore all of them. I suggest choosing only one attraction for deeper exploration while having a quick walkthrough of the others.
Adelaide Botanic Garden
Towards the end of your walk along North Terrace, you will find the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Garden.
Adelaide Botanic Garden is an oasis in the middle of a buzzing city centre. It is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With a variety of plantations, it is also a great place to visit all year round.
Grab lunch from the Kiosk or Restaurant Botanic within the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
For wine lovers, you may want to check out the neighbouring National Wine Centre of Australia for a mouthwatering meal and an amazing wine selection. Wine tastings are also available, which you may need to book ahead of time before visiting.
Rundle Street to Rundle Mall
After lunch, you will slowly wander back to the city centre via Rundle Street and Rundle Mall.
Rundle Street and Rundle Mall is the heart of retail and entertainment in Adelaide. However, they are quite different in many ways.
- On the eastern side of Pulteney Street
- Offers boutique stores with mostly higher-end brands.
- You can find many interesting restaurants and cafes around Rundle Street.
- On the western side of Pulteney Street
- A pedestrian-only street and a street mall
- Offers a large variety of shops and department stores
- You can find many budget-friendly food courts in Rundle Mall
- Where the famous Mall’s Balls (officially ‘The Spheres’) and the Rundle Mall Pigs (officially ‘A Day Out’) live
Adelaide Central Market
Take a stroll or catch a free tram along King William St to visit the Adelaide Central Market.
On your way to the central market, you will find the Adelaide Town Hall building on your left and the colonial era’s GPO (General Post Office) building on your right. At the southeastern corner of Victoria Square, you will also find the impressive St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Cathedral – worth a visit if you have the time.
Adelaide Central Market is a must-visit in Adelaide.
Over the years, Adelaide Central Market has transformed and developed into more than just a hub for fresh produce. In Adelaide Central Market, you can also find artisan bakeries, delicious cheese & wine stalls, organic products, thriving bars and cafes, and many more.
The opening hours for Adelaide Central Market can vary significantly on different days of the week, so be sure to check out its trading hours before visiting.
Adjacent to Adelaide Central Market, you will find the booming Adelaide Chinatown.
In Adelaide Chinatown, you can find a range of international cuisines. There is also a variety of shops selling a wide selection of groceries from different regions in the world. Many of these stores also have longer trading hours than other shops in Adelaide, so it can be a great place for you to explore after dinner.
There is a huge selection of eateries around Adelaide Central Market and Adelaide Chinatown. Depending on your preference, there is a range of different cuisines to choose from. My favourites are:
- Argentinian: Gaucho’s Argentinian Restaurant – you can never go wrong with an Argentinian steak.
- Chao Chow – dry & soup base hotpot.
- Tasty Biang – best BiangBiang noodles & cold skin noodles in Adelaide.
- Ying Chow Chinese Restaurant – a restaurant that’s been around for years; specialises in stir-fries, can get very busy.
- Italian: La Trattoria Restaurant & Pizza Bar – amazing pasta & super friendly staff.
- Japanese: Wasai Japanese Kitchen – I loved their curries & their sushi was also great.
- Vietnamese: Thanh Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant – one of the best Pho in town.
After dinner, if your tummy still has room for it, make sure you check out some of the dessert options around here. My favourites are:
- Matcha House: for everything matcha related; my personal favourites are their Matcha Ice Cream Parfait and Matcha Panna Cotta, absolutely delicious; a must-visit if you like matcha.
- Meet Dessert: for a selection of icy cold desserts; they also offer 1L Mega Cup Milk Tea – very satisfying to drink.
- Gyoza Gyoza: offers a selection of soft serves (as well as dinner options); as a matcha lover, their matcha soft serve is what drives me there over and over again.
- L’Amour Patisserie: a cute patisserie that opens to 9 pm on most days; lovely decorations; cakes are not overly sweet (I personally do not like sweets much).
Mad March Events
If you are visiting Adelaide during Mad March (mid-February to late March), it may be worthwhile checking out some of the events around Adelaide.
The most popular ones are Adelaide Fringe Festival, WOMAD, and Clipsal 500.
Most of these events are spread out around Adelaide, which can be easily visited when staying in Adelaide CBD.
Day 2: Adelaide Hills & North Adelaide
The 2nd day of this itinerary starts with a trip to the remarkable Adelaide Hills and finishes with a relaxing stroll along the charming streets in North Adelaide.
For more detailed information on visiting the Adelaide Hills on a day trip from Adelaide, you may wish to also read this ‘Adelaide Hills Day Trip & Free Things To Do‘.
Check out Luigi Delicatessen for a sensational breakfast platter.
Mount Lofty Summit
Adelaide Hills is best known for its stunning nature, lush tree-lined streets, brilliant wineries, and mouth-watering German sausages. It is also home to the impressive Mount Lofty Summit.
From Mount Lofty Summit, you can obtain a breathtaking panoramic view of Adelaide and its surrounding areas.
You can hike to the Mount Lofty Summit from Waterfall Gully, but there are no direct bus services to Waterfall Gully. To make this trip more practical, you will need to catch a bus directly to the Mount Lofty Summit instead.
This bus ride from Adelaide to Mount Lofty Summit takes just under 1 hour. Alternatively, you can also use a rideshare service for around AUD30 from Adelaide CBD (average price at the time of writing this article – April 2022).
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is located on the eastern slope of Mount Lofty. It is a great place to reconnect with nature.
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a great place to visit all year round. I especially enjoy the views here during the Autumn months (March to June), when the trees are all turning into an array of gold and red. With its cooler climate, it is also a great place to visit in the hotter months (December to February).
Check out the delicious burgers from Crafers Bean Cafe in Crafers before catching a bus to Hahndorf.
Alternatively, you can check out the amazing food options in Hahndorf instead.
A less than half an hour’s bus ride from Crafers, you will arrive at Adelaide’s most famous German town, Hahndorf.
Hahndorf has a strong German heritage. Along your walk around Hahndorf, you will find a range of picturesque German-style buildings. Since this little town is a well-touristed area, you can also find a wide variety of shops selling interesting gifts and crafts.
Sitting in the heart of Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is also in no short supply of fresh local produce and quality wine options.
Beerenberg Farm is conveniently located in Hahndorf and offers pick-your-own strawberries from November to April (depending on the year). They also have a newly upgraded cafe, which offers a great strawberry inspired menu. Make sure you try out their delicious strawberry ice cream while visiting. A gift shop is also available for purchasing a range of Beerenberg products, which are not easily found in regular supermarkets.
Beerenberg Farm is by far my favourite place in Hahndorf & a must-visit in this area.
Handorf is famous for its German sausages. Multiple restaurants serve German sausages in Hahndorf. I have tried the German sausages in two popular restaurants in Hahndorf, but I did not find them as appetising as the sausages in Germany. Each to their own, I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Since Adelaide Hills is famous for its wines, you can also find many cellar doors around Hahndorf. If time allows, feel free to join a wine tasting as well.
Once you have returned to the city, be sure to head towards North Adelaide along King William Street for some beautiful street and river views.
North Adelaide is a suburb north of Adelaide and only an easy 30-minute walk from Adelaide CBD. It is an affluent suburb with streets lined with picturesque restaurants, boutiques, and heritage architecture.
Along this walk, you will be walking past the beautiful Elder Park, peaceful River Torrens, famous Adelaide Oval, and breathtaking St Peter’s Cathedral.
If time allows, make sure you also take a casual stroll or a bike ride along the River Torrens to enjoy Adelaide from a different perspective. Paddle Boats are also available in Elder Park to cruise around River Torrens.
There is a wide range of restaurants to choose from in North Adelaide, especially near O’Connell Street and Melbourne Street. Most of these eateries are very well presented and provide amazing food experiences, so it is more a matter of personal preference.
My personal favourites for dinner are:
- Beyond India North Adelaide for a great selection of Indian food
- The Kentish Hotel for an excellent pub meal
- Himalayan Kitchen for tasty Nepalese food
- Yakitori Takumi for a cosy Japanese experience
- Krung Thep Thai for mouthwatering Thai food
- Marrakech Restaurant for an impressive Moroccan experience
- Bakery on O’Connell for some delicious baked goods & they open 24/7
- St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream and Deserts for a delicious ice cream
For late-night drinks:
- Stacked Social
Day 3: Hallet Cove Conservation Park & Brighton Beach / Glenelg Beach
Try out Coffee Branch on Leigh Street for an excellent coffee to start the day.
Hallett Cove Conservation Park
Hallett Cove Conservation Park is a 30-minute drive south of Adelaide. From Adelaide CBD, it is only a 35-minute train ride from Adelaide Railway Station (a great way to explore this beautiful railway station too).
In addition to the stunning coastal views, Hallett Cove Conservation Park also provides a display of magnificent geological formations from the ice age (280 million years ago).
I suggest starting your walk from the Boatshed Cafe and follow the famous Hallett Cove Boardwalk for the best views and experience.
The Hallett Cove Boardwalk is a clifftop boardwalk overlooking the incredible St Vincent Gulf. Along this boardwalk, you will find an extensive display of Permian Glaciation on the cliff side. There is also a set of staircase to take you down the rocky oceanfront to explore this geological formation further.
You can complete a return walk in Hallett Cove Conservation Park within as little as 1 hour, but I suggest planning at least 2 hours to pace yourself and truly enjoy the breathtaking views.
Right next to Hallett Cove Conservation Park, you can join Boatshed Cafe for lunch.
Alternatively, you can also find many great cafes and restaurants near Brighton & Glenelg Beach.
Brighton Beach and/or Glenelg Beach
After visiting Hallett Cove, you can either take a short train ride to visit the beautiful Brighton Beach or take a combined train and bus ride to visit the famous Glenelg Beach.
Glenelg Beach is popular among both locals and tourists. It offers a soft sandy beach, stunning waterfront, heritage architecture, convenient location, and abundant shops and cafes.
Brighton Beach offers most of the things you can find from Glenelg Beach but on a smaller scale. Since it is not as well known to tourists, you do find much fewer people around Brighton Beach.
I do love the beautiful views from Glenelg Beach, but not how populated it usually is. So, Brighton Beach has always been my go-to place on those hot summer days.
If you are interested, you can also take a walk along the beach between Brighton and Glenelg to visit both of these beaches and everything in between. This walk takes only 1 hour (one way). There are also cafes and parks along the walk for you to sit down and relax.
For more information on choosing the best beach to visit in Adelaide, feel free to check out this: Best Adelaide Beach to Visit – a comparison of all beaches 1-hour from Adelaide.
Depending on your plans, you may wish to enjoy some beautiful sunset views near the bay before heading back to the city. If this is you, there are multiple places near Brighton and Glenelg for you to sample some delicious dinner.
If you are heading back to Adelaide CBD for dinner, you may wish to check out Leigh Street or Hutt Street for some dinner ideas.
Options for spending 4 to 6 Days in Adelaide without a car
If you have more than 3 days to spend in Adelaide and don’t mind joining guided tours, be sure to check out some of the day tours to visit the stunning country towns near Adelaide.
Day 4: Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley is well known for its big, bold Shiraz. You can find several high-profile, world-renowned wineries in this region, as well as many smaller wineries.
Most of these wineries offer cellar door tastings. Some of them also have adjacent restaurants/cafes for you to enjoy a delicious meal with a glass of paired wine.
In addition to the wines, Barossa Valley also offers an extraordinary view. Here, you can find picturesque vineyards, charming churches and stone cottages, and glorious chateaus.
Check out Barossa Valley guided tours here on Viator.
Day 5 +/- Day 6: Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is the third-largest island in Australia. Being geologically isolated from the mainland, it offers a magnificent nature experience.
For more detailed information on Kangaroo Island, feel free to check out my articles on:
- Kangaroo Island 2 Day Road Trip Itinerary and Useful Tips
- Kangaroo Island Day Trip: a practical road trip itinerary
Feel free to also check out Viator for guided tours to the wonderful Kangaroo Island.
Day 6: Victor Harbor +/- McLaren Vale
Victor Harbor is just over an hour’s drive south of Adelaide.
As a beautiful coastal town, Victor Harbor is another popular attraction to visit in South Australia.
Along the drive to and/or from Victor Harbor from Adelaide, you can also visit another famous South Australian wine region, McLaren Vale.
For a guided day tour to Victor Harbor and McLaren Vale, feel free to check out here on Viator.
Public Transport in Adelaide Metropolitan Area
Adelaide public transport services are all managed by Adelaide Metro. It consists of a network of buses, trains, and trams.
Adelaide Metro Price
Free public services are available on trams within Adelaide CBD and along Jetty Road, Glenelg. You can also catch the free city connector buses to get around Adelaide CBD (98A, 98C, 99A, 99C) and North Adelaide (98A, 98C).
Fares apply to all other transport services. They are the same across all buses, trains, and trams in Adelaide’s metropolitan area. However, they differ significantly depending on the time of the day you are travelling in & whether you are using a concession ticket.
Price for purchasing a regular fare at the time of writing this article (April 2022) – please check out Adelaide Metro for up to date pricing before travelling:
|Single Ticket Off Peak Travel
Valid for 2 hours from Validation – Weekdays 09:01 -15:00 + Sundays + Public Holidays
|Single Ticket Peak Hour Travel
Valid for 2 hours from Validation – Weekdays before 0900 & after 1500 + Saturdays
Unlimited Travel & Expire 4am the Next Day
|MetroCard Off Peak Travel
Rechargeable Card, with a Once-Off Card Purchase Fee of AUD 5
|MetroCard Peak Hour Travel
Rechargeable Card with a Once-Off Card Purchase Fee of AUD 5
3 Days Unlimited Travel & can Recharge as a Regular MetroCard
|14 Day Pass
Unlimited Travel for 14 Days & Requires a MetroCard to Load
|28 Day Pass
Unlimited Travel for 28 Days & Requires a MetroCard to Load
The type of fares you may require is highly dependent on how many days you are travelling for, how often you are travelling each day, and when you are travelling.
Where to purchase MetroTicket and/or MetroCard
You can purchase and recharge a MetroCard online or in person. Check out here on Adelaide Metro for a list of where to purchase and recharge a MetroCard.
For visitors arriving in Adelaide by air, there is also a bus interchange in Adelaide Airport for purchasing and recharging a MetroCard.
If you wish to purchase a Visitor Metro Card, it is currently (April 2022) only available for purchase at Adelaide Railway Station (in the city).
You can purchase a paper MetroTicket on board all trains and trams, but not on board buses. You can also purchase a paper MetroTicket at Adelaide Airport Bus Interchanged. For a complete list, feel free to check out Adelaide Metro.
From Adelaide Airport to Adelaide CBD
It is usually only a 15-minute drive between Adelaide Airport and Adelaide CBD. An Uber or Didi ride-share service will cost around AUD15-25 (at time of writing – April 2022), depending on the service you pick.
You can also commute between Adelaide Airport and Adelaide CBD by bus. J1 and J2 buses take only about 30-minutes to drive between Adelaide Airport and Adelaide CBD, which can be a very affordable and convenient option for many travellers. The fare is the same as all other public transport services in Adelaide.
Adelaide Metro Timetables
As can be expected, public transport services are generally less frequent on weekends and public holidays. There are also fewer services outside of peak hours. However, as long as you plan ahead, you are still able to visit the attractions on this itinerary with ease.
To plan your trip, you can use either Adelaide Metro’s Journey Planner or Google Maps. I have used both of them to plan my trips, and they both work well. However, I do find Google Maps offers more flexible options.
With Google Maps, it offers a combination of Adelaide Metro, ride-share, and walking options, which can work out much better in bringing you to where you need to be. If you are in an e-Scooter operating zone, it will even show you that option too.
Where to Stay when Visiting Adelaide
Since Adelaide CBD is a central hub for all Adelaide Metro services, it only makes sense to stay in the Adelaide city centre for this 3 Day Adelaide Itinerary.
Within Adelaide CBD, I highly suggest staying near the intersection of King William Street & Currie Street/Grenfell Street. Most of the public transport services are near this area, and there is also a great range of cafes, restaurants, and bars nearby.
There is a good selection of accommodations in Adelaide CBD to suit every budget and need. Feel free to check them out here on Booking.com.
- For budget options, check out Adelaide Central YHA – centrally located & clean, offers a range of budget options from dorm rooms to private double and family rooms.
- Looking for an apartment? Check out Quality Apartments Adelaide Central.
- For a mid-range hotel with a superb location, check out Hotel Richmond on Rundle Mall or ibis Adelaide.
- For an excellent 5-Star Hotel, you may want to check out The Playford Adelaide and Mayfair Hotel.